Last week, regional elections were held in Italy and Germany. In the German state of Thuringia, Angela Merkel’s party- Christian Democrats- came in third behind the leftist Linke and the right-wing AfD. This latter party has been gaining support in German elections over the past two years. The previous month, Merkel’s party saw a decrease in power in local elections in Saxony and Brandenburg at the hands of the AfD.
In Italy in the state of Umbria which is right in the middle of the country, populist Matteo Salvini’s La Liga won control after 50 years of Leftist rule. In a terrible political decision months ago, Italy’s Five Star Movement allied with Salvini’s opposition in an effort to oust the Prime Minister. In the Umbria elections, they were inconsequential. But at least they have a really nice, fancy website to fall back upon.
What is happening in these European elections is a mirror of what is happening here in the United States. In Europe, the phrase “right-wing” takes on extra special significance. And if you are branded “right-wing” in Europe, you are one step from being a Nazi.
The intelligentsia in Europe has subtly shifted how they portray these parties. About a year ago, European publications were portraying these upstart parties as “populists.” This “populism” helped them explain why voters were anti-EU and against a common currency. It helped explain why citizens were against the unfettered immigration of people from Africa and the Middle East invading their country and changing their cultures.
But the intelligentsia realized that the populists were educated, intelligent, and yes… diverse. Yet they were pigeonholed with a list of bad things. Their socialist ideas were bad, their free-market ideas were bad, and their social ideas were bad. They were just bad people and those who voted for them were also bad. To some, they were even deplorable. Does this sound vaguely familiar?
So now the intelligentsia, unable to explain tricky things like election results, have decided to rebrand the “populists.” No longer are they “populists;” they are now “right-wing.” They have actually discovered that some of those former “populists” are even nice people. Some of them, after actually listening to the former populists, have discovered that they too might be a populist. In Germany, there are many Germans who support AfD and their view of what Germany is doing right and what they are doing wrong. They are ordinary people with very real concerns. They are the equivalent of our “fly-over country.”
As in Germany, La Liga’s success is no longer a “populist” movement. Today it is branded a “right-wing” victory. One supposes that Mussolini’s ghost is lurking somewhere in the background. In Germany, the invisible hand of Hitler is motivating the AfD. They are “right-wing.”
Admittedly, AfD and La Liga have their problems. Some spokespeople for both parties need to take a weekend off, resign themselves to some nice place, and study how to talk and avoid ill-considered words. But they are straight-shooters who talk bluntly through the accepted PC-correct language that pervades Europe.
Consider the plight of Europeans in Italy and Germany who have listened to the mainstream parties for 50 years now. After 50 years of liberal rule and unrealized liberal promises coupled with Liberal-led destruction of your culture, the experts in the media sit back and resort to name-calling and labeling.
The thing is: these deplorable populists and these “Nazi” right-wingers look and speak a lot like the rest of us. That is because they are us. They are part of the new political landscape sweeping through Germany, Italy, Austria, Poland, France, Great Britain, Spain, Brazil and yes… the United States.
Perhaps the liberal intelligentsia in all these countries should take a deep breath, stand back, and look in the mirror. Then they should ask themselves: “Where do I really stand?”